Many people in the "emerging church" arena in Australia and in the "evangelical" arena in Sydney spend plenty of their time and energy bagging, slagging and snobbing Hillsong Church. I pose the question is this critising warranted?
Firstly, let me say that I come from the view point of a "Sydney born-and-breed" "Uniting-come-Baptist-influenced-by-FourSquare(Pentecostal)" who believes the future of Christianity lies in "incarnational mission" and "accountable-to-denominations communities of believers".
My Mercy t-shirt
The first Hillsong t-shirt I owned has butterflies on it and the word mercy written across the side. It is to support the social justice and transformation outreaches of Hillsong church.
Many people overlook the massive amount of social justice and transformation work Hillsong is involved in. They take advantage of there size and income, devoting a massive proportion of it to work in the community, with the broken and needy.
As the butterflies symbolise, they believe in the power of God to recreate broken and hurting people into who God created them to be. And as the word mercy indicates, nothing is expected or sought by Hillsong in these acts of compassion, they are just responding to the heart of God.
Question: For those of you who bag Hillsong, what is the social justice and transformation work in your church or community like?
My daughter, warrior, princess t-shirt
Despite the sword on the front, which I know Matt can't get over, this t-shirt supports the Colour Your World conference and associated womens ministries of Hillsong Church. It is based on Holly Wagner's book God Chicks. If you have been to a Colour conference, you will get this, but for the rest of you...
The Hillsong female pastors have a passion for empowering women, desiring them to be all God created them to be. And for many women this is vital. I can attest to this myself. Many woman (and men I know) struggle with insecurities, conformity, roles dictated by men, singleness, marriage and motherhood.
The daughter aspect focusses on being a beloved child of God. To know their identity as loved and treasured by God, that he delights to give good gifts to his children, that his discipline is healthy and his steadfastness is unmoving. This is a very powerful image and very difficult for insecure woman to accept, but basic for a secure and full life in Christ.
The warrior aspect focusses on the victory of Christ and the power in Christ to overcome lifes obstacles and hardships, to stand firm in onslaughts, to remain true, to survive. To know that they can survive singleness, or a difficult patch in marriage, or the terrible twos of your toddler, to the despair of losing a loved one. To know and claim the power of prayer in the name of Jesus and to know that other woman will stand by you and be your rock when you don't think you can stand anymore. This is very powerful for woman, and a true blessing to know and take hold of. This is what will allow woman to be great woman of God, great single chicks, great wives, great mothers, great business women, great pastors.
The princess aspect looks at being the Daughter of the King, the daughter of God. To know that you are a princess (or prince) because you belong to God is key to how you allow people to treat you. If you know that you are a princess you will not settle for second best in male-female relationships. You will not allow yourself to be trampled by others or bullied. You will act graciously and respectfully, honouring the King. This is especially important for teenage girls and woman of all ages to accept so as not to be used in relationships. It is also important for teenage boys and men to realise. They cannot treat their woman folk as they want for their own pleasure and personal gain. They need to realise that God the King is very protective of his girls, and these princesses need to be treated with dignity and respect, they deserved to be loved and cherished.
Question: How is your church empowering, supporting and treating women?
Although I would probably not myself regularly attend Hillsong Church. I do visit and I support their work. I am also proud of the way they handle wrongdoing in the church. Ps. Brian had to sack his own dad, the founder of the church, over sexual misconduct, and he sacked him without scandle. How does your church handle misconduct?
Yes, I know that every church has its faults. They are all made of humans! But instead of focusing on these faults, how about we focus on the good in churches, celebrate these, and learn from them!